This is the blog for Matt Hollingsworth. I'm from Ojai, California. I've worked in comics for 22 years as a color artist.

This blog will largely be used to show my daily life as I live in Samobor, Croatia and as I travel around the region. Lots and lots of photos! Leave me a comment, will you?

All content on this blog is copyright 2013 Matthew Dale Hollingsworth and cannot be copied or used for any purpose without my consent.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Okay, so Darko Macan prompted me to get off of my ass and finally post something after a month. I'm preparing the photos from my Makarska trip in May, of which there are many. So, meanwhile, I'll post a simple one to hold you folks off. Not that it's necessarily anything exciting.

After discovering that there aren't really all that many good beers to drink here in Zagreb, I've been drinking a lot more wine. There are tons of really great wines here, from Croatia and also the surrounding countries. Particularly good wines that are very cheap can be found from Bosnia and Hercegovina and Macedonia, for instance. Now, I'm not knocking all of the beer here. But the range of choice is severely limited. Local stores in Gajnice have maybe 3 or 4 beers that I am willing to drink. I did not previously like Laško, but grew to like it a lot in Makarska, where they had fresh draft Laško. Tasty. I can get a decent bottle of that here. I don't drink Ožujsko much anymore since they switched to green bottles. Stupid motherfuckers. It ruins their beer, which is already not the best anyway. So, that's out. Karlovačko pretty much sucks as it always has. The original Budweiser is available here and is the best I can get in my neighborhood. I found a Prehrana store on Cvijetni Trg that carries Edelweiss, from Germany. If you're at Cvijetni Trg, it's the only Prehrana there. Pick one up. It's somewhere between Paulaner and Hoegaarden in flavor. I also found a local market that carries Nikšičko Pivo, from Montenegro. It's better than any of the Croatian beers I can get here. Sadly, I have not seen Velebitsko Pivo ANYWHERE in maybe 4 months. Fuck. That beer's from Croatia and is the best I've had from this entire region. Oh well.

So, onto wine then. There are tons of great whites and reds to be had here.

Our current favorite is called Samotok, from the Mostar region in Bosnia and Hercegovina. This is a very nice polusuho crno vino, "half dry black wine". Folks here call red wine black. Anyway, it's semi dry. It's only 12.5% alcohol but very nice. It's also 25 kuna at the shop. Which is around $4.50 or $4.75. Not bad. We're gonna buy a case. We drink it more than anything else.

The same producer, "Hercegovina Produkt", also produces a Žilavka and Blatina we like a lot. Žilavka is a white grape indigenous to the area around Mostar, Blatina a red grape also indigenous to the area. The Žilavka is nice. I can't really compare it yet until I've drank more, which I'm working on. But it's more in the family of a Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio and nothing near a Riesling or Gewurztraminer. It's a clean grape without and sharp fruit or heavy acid. Nice. They have a higher graded one that is 80 kuna if I remember right, and the medium grade, which is around 24 kuna. The 24 kuna bottle is very good and that 80 kuna price will not get you a bottle that's much better. Blatina goes into Samotok, which is a blend. The one labeled Blatina is a drier version.

Most bottles we buy are "Kvalitetno", which is considered the second best quality wine. "Vrhunsko" is the highest grade and usually costs a lot more. "Stolno" is basic table wine. In basic practice, most of the wines are pretty decent and Kvalitetno is really very tasty stuff.

Another favorite of ours has been the Traminac from Iločki Podrumi (podrum is "basement"). The Traminac grape is the same as the Gewurztraminer grape, but the wine that I've seen here is generally not as strong as the huge 14 to 15% wines I've seen from Alsace. It's a really very nice wine here. I had not looked it up yet when I first tried it, but as soon as I smelled it, having not even tasted it yet, I said to Nara that this really reminded me of Gewurztraminer. I looked it up, and sure enough. The stuff from Alsace is absolutely the best on Earth in my opinion, but the ones I've tried from here are first rate and very nice. They're better than the ones I've had from Washington State, for instance. Aromatic, a touch sweet and no heavy acid like some wines. Nice! They have both Kvalitetno and Vrhunsko. The Vrhunsko is only 40 kuna and is a bit better, though the Kvalitetno is also quite tasty at under 30 kuna.

Malvazija is a very nice white from here. It's hugely aromatic, but it's main drawback for me thus far is some pretty heavy acid. Brings up heartburn. I get this from some wines, though. Still searching on that grape as I love the flavor and aroma, if not the heartburn. Second from the left in the picture.

Teran is on the left in the picture. It's a red grape. Seems like a good grape, but that wine was not very good and thus not recommended.

We've become friends with the local wine merchant, going to her shop once or twice a week. She recommended an Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon, called Kaiken, which we tried and loved. It was 60 kuna if I remember. This is great wine. Strong at 14.7% alcohol, but it doesn't taste sharp or anything. Very clean and drinkable. We love it.

And, the monster of the region is Dingač, a strong red wine made from the Plavac Mali grape. Plavac Mali is related to the grape Zinfandel, made popular in California. The grape Zinfandel has been found to originate on the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia and was seemingly brought back to Rome during the time of the empire, then spread out. It eventually found it's way to Austria, then to the States, where it found a nice home in California.

Anyway, Dingač is the most expensive of local wines. It's the wine I've bought as a gift for people, having given away 4 or 5 bottles but still not having tried it. I finally bought one today, for 165 kuna ($31), but have yet to try it. It generally ranges from 125 kuna to 250 kuna in price. That's currently $23 to $47. So, I don't usually buy this wine. I can find very tasty wines at much, much lower prices, so I usually do that.

This is wine growing land, especially on the coast. And there's a long and rich history with the grape going back centuries. Grapes were brought back from Dalmatia to Rome. And the wine here ranks up with the best of what I've had from California, France, Italy or any other grape growing region.

Which is great.

Plavac Mali on WikiPedia


Randy said...

Crown and Coke or a Silver Patron
Margarita for me! How about the distilled spirits in Gajnice? do you have access to Whiskey, etc... I am sure there is a lot of Vodka?
I am amazed at how many wineries there are now in Oregon and here in Wa state! Some very good wines are being produced right here, a little bit more spendy though. For $4 here you might get a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 or some Arbor Mist. Me, I am on a Tequila kick right now. It's hard to believe that a top shelf bottle of tequila goes for $55 for a fifth - thats a lot for cactus juice! - Take care Matt- Looking forward to DD #100!

Matt Hollingsworth said...

Yeah, there's what's locally called "rakija" (brandy) of various sorts. People make it at home too. People make it with fruit from their farm or garden and sell it at local markets. Some of it's very good. Sljivovica is the most famous, probably. It's made with plums. Travarica is another, made with herbs of various sorts. Medovača is one made with honey. I like medovača the best myself.

I drank a lot of great wines when I lived in Oregon. Buncha good stuff, but yes, the good stuff is expensive. I like me some tequila too.

Working on DD 100 now!

Zeljka said...

c'mon, ask me who designed the label for Traminac (Iločki) :)))
Btw, there are also 2 more kinds of Iločki Traminac, one is Late havest (i think that's the word) and the other is 'izborna berba' but I don't know how to translate it :) The last one is made out of selected grapes, in small quantities. Both cost around 100 kn for 0.5L (not much for a wine like that). As well as premium quality and quality Traminac, they are sweet and smell a bit fruity - usually women like them... You can buy it in Roto shop next to Zagrebačka banka in Gajnice.
You're wellcome. :D

Zeljka said...

welcome that is. pardon my french. :)

Matt Hollingsworth said...

That Roto Vinoteka is the place we shop all the time. Love that place. We saw the more expensive Traminac there but didn't buy it. Opted for the 40 kuna, 750ml bottle instead.

Did you design that label?

Nara and I might head out East to Ilok to check out the winery at some point.

Zeljka said...

Yup, we did. If you'd like, I might call some people there to give you a proper tour and some wine tasting? I suggest you go in september, when it's grape picking time, that could be interesting...